Farewell songs from Neil Diamond
Many of Neil Diamond's songs have a haunting, poetic, yearning power which makes them ideal farewell songs.
Below is a selection which will make the gathered crowd understand a little bit better the message your musical selection is giving.
If I Never Knew Your Name
Early song in Neil Diamond’s career. It’s a gorgeous love song, with an unusually simple structure and also notable for the high pitched notes he reaches with confidence. This is a song when you want everyone to know how intense and sincere your love for them is.
This is a haunting, poetic song of recalled love and yearning. The arrangement is sumptuous, and it marked Diamond’s arrival as a writer of original, complex and exceptionally moving songs, using metaphor and imagery with a confidence that marked him as one of the outstanding artists of his generation.
If You Go Away
Although a hugely gifted songwriter, Diamond also chose wonderful songs written by others. If You Go Away was originally by Jacques Brel and is one of the most moving love songs ever written. Diamond clearly recognised its emotional power and delivers a touching, sensitive version helped hugely by a dreamy arrangement.
From the superb album, Moods, this puts into words a very special emotion…the recognition of how two people’s love for each other makes both stronger. He is revealing to his lover the extent to which he depends on her for his very existence. 'You are the sun, I am the moon, You are the words, I am the tune…Play me.' And if ever a melody was written that matched the lyric, then Diamond achieves it here.
From Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, this is a melancholy, multi-layed tour de force of heart rending emotion. It is symphonic in structure, with a fabulous arrangement…much of it is instrumental and epic in its aural power and pastoral beauty. ‘Dear Father, we dream while we may,’ is the description of so many lives unfulfilled but no less special.
I’ve Been This Way Before
A particularly appropriate farewell song. A huge arrangement, a rich melody and Diamond extracting every last drop of emotion. It builds layer upon layer of sound, power and sentiment. There will not be a dry eye in the house, nor should there be because he’s the master of poignant sadness.
Dry Your Eyes
Almost a military march which develops into a luscious, emotional roller coaster. You get the feeling that Diamond is seeing the crowded church swaying to the swirling rhythms, tears swelling in every eye, the haunting French horns used to scintillating effect as the song comes to an end. ‘And if you can't recall the reason can you hear the people sing./Right through the lightning and the thunder to the dark side of the moon,/To that distant falling angel that descended much too soon./And come dry your eyes.’
Another epic composition from Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, it’s a beautiful, powerful song that touches a raw emotion. Poetry of the highest order, ‘Be as a page that aches for the word/Which speaks on a theme that is timeless,/While the sun God will make for your day./Sing As a song in search of a voice that is silent./And the one God will make for your day.’ This matched by a magnificent arrangement that builds into an intense climax, before a gentle closing. What a way to go!
This is what missing someone you love is really about. Imagine the effect this will have at the farewell event. Everyone will understand the loss and how the person who has passed will never be forgotten. Grief and parting hurts so much, and nothing can disguise it.
Sung mainly in Spanish, the arrangement and breathy spoken passages have a sacred feel. Appropriate as a farewell song, it describes the power of music to 'cleanse the soul and wash away the pain' and 'keep from the thought of dying'. Another beautiful arrangement with layer upon layer of haunting strings. Quite unforgettable.
Done Too Soon
The first half of the song names a long line of people who share the same humanity, 'sweating beneath the same sun, looked up in wonder at the moon, and wept at it being done too soon.' Superb mix of musical moods, ranging from powerful brass, soft strings and a quiet piano at the sublime end.
I Am I Said
Probably the song that best sums up Neil Diamond. Poetic, enigmatic, intense, and emotional and with a brilliant arrangement and memorable melody. I Am I Said excites and disturbs in equal measure. His dramatic, theatrical delivery ensures we share his vulnerability. Which is why it is such a fantastic farewell song.
- Neil Diamond: The Story Of My Life
- Aretha Franklin: People Get Ready
- Van Morrison: Moondance
- The Beatles: Here Comes The Sun
- Ella Fitzgerald: With A Song In My Heart
- Harry Nilsson: Without You
- Gladys Knight: The Way We Were
- Regina Spektor: The Call
- Tony Bennett: The Good Life
- Neil Diamond: We
- Neil Diamond: I Dreamed A Dream